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Archive for the category “Bold Sacrifice”

Day 20 – Following Jesus Into Adventure

John 5:17-20

             In 1958 the American writer Barnaby Conrad was badly gored in a bullfight in Spain. The actress Eva Gabor was having lunch with Noel Coward in a New York restaurant when the two were overheard talking about the incident. “Noel, dahling,” said Eva, “have you heard the news about poor Bahnaby?” He vas terribly gored in Spain.”

            “He was what?” asked Coward in alarm.

            “He vas gored!”

            “Thank heavens. I thought you said he was bored.”

             Are you bored? You don’t need to be. God is already working all around you – at home, at work, at church, in the restaurant and at the store – and you can join him. In fact, he invited you to join him for blessing, for purpose . . . for adventure.

            Adventures are a wonderful thing – in books; but in life it’s another matter. They stretch and discompose you. But what a great thing to go on an adventure with Jesus as your companion.

            Think of the adventures Jesus experienced: There was the attempt made on his life when he was but an infant (Matthew 2); there was the wilderness survival experience; the storm at sea; the riot at Nazareth – and many more. He faced enemies, demoniacs, diabolical politicians and crazed mobs.

            We think that if we are in God’s will we will be protected from risk, but it was not so for Jesus. He watched what His Father was doing, saw where he was working, and joined right in (John 15:19-20a). Doing so sometimes led him into adventure, but never into boredom.

            If your Christian life is boring, perhaps you haven’t been following Jesus’ lead. If you will watch what the Father is doing, see where he is working, and act when he shows you what to do, you’ll be off on the adventure of your life. And you’ll have Jesus as your companion.

          “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)

S.L.

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Day 19 – Bold Sacrifice – 3

Acts 20:22-24

 22 “And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. 23 I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me.24 However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me–the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace. (Acts 20:22-24, NIV)

What is the test that affirms we are being compelled and led by God’s Holy Spirit in where we go and what we do for Christ and His Kingdom? Surely Paul must have wrestled with the dangers of going to back to Jerusalem – fellow-apostles pleading with him not to go there.   Paul reveals something interesting and important here. In every city that he had entered in His years of ministry the Holy Spirit had warned him about the reality of persecution and hardship.  Though Paul was stubborn, he was continually faithful to His fulfill His calling to preach the gospel of salvation. Why? He was a changed man, Christ had not only opened his eyes, Paul was transformed by the light of Jesus’ grace and glory. When a person is made new in Christ there is nothing more gratifying and meaningful than to pass this on to others. Paul could face adversity with bold faith, counting sacrifice a privilege as long as others could also taste and see that gospel of God’s grace in Christ means everything and is worth our complete devotion. 

How unselfish and sacrificial are we in our view of the Christian faith? How often do we complain when the going gets tough, or when the consequence of sharing the gospel of Jesus involves rejection or persecution? Paul teaches us that the Holy Spirit will warn us, but will also encourage us to expect such treatment. We learn from Paul that such adversity can build our character, faith, and deepen our resolve and reliance upon God. After all, the most effective witness reveals a God who is bigger than our words and greater than our circumstances. This is a good lesson in a time of history where many people have flocked to the safety of Mega-Churches or have opted out of the church because of competing demands of time and resources. Being a disciple of Jesus means picking up your cross in order to follow Him, this will be true until we cross the finish line in our faith’s race.

 If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. (Luke 9:23)

S.A.

Day 18 – Bold Sacrifice – 2

Paul – Acts 20:22-24

             Acts chapter 9 records the account of the conversion of Saul of Tarsus to, as we refer to him, “The Apostle Paul.” Three days after appearing to Paul, the Lord called Ananias to pray for Paul in order that he might receive his sight, be filled with the Spirit, and be baptized. Jesus tells Ananias that Paul is a “chosen instrument” to evangelize the Gentiles and that he will “suffer much” for Christ’s name. Years later we find Paul (Acts 20) traveling through Ephesus on what will be his final pilgrimage to Jerusalem. There he will be imprisoned, and then be transferred to Rome where he is eventually executed.

            Paul has lived out his commission; fearlessly preaching the gospel throughout Asia Minor; courageously facing staunch and often violent opposition to his message.  Picking up in verse 22, we find insight into Paul’s willingness to sacrifice all for Christ, and the courage with which he did. First, he was compelled by the Holy Spirit (Note:  Acts 1:8); second, he had a realistic view of the Christian life. Remember, Jesus called his disciples to take up a cross, not a couch, and follow Him (Note:  Mt. 16:24 – 26). And third, Paul lived with a sense of destiny. He had a mission to fulfill, an assignment from God which was of more value to him than his own safety or security. For these reasons, he was willing to boldly sacrifice all for the cause of Jesus Christ. 

            What if the church of Branch County were to live with that same sense of courageous commitment? What if you and I were to fully yield to the compelling presence of God’s Holy Sprit within? How might that embolden our witness? What if we were to reject social status, creature comforts and cultural conveniences in favor of sacrificially serving Jesus Christ daily out in our community? What difference could that make? And what if, like Paul, we esteemed God’s purpose for our lives of ultimate value and lived accordingly? We also have a mission to fulfill, one that will require bold sacrifices day in and day out. A mission well worth the investment of all we have to give, and a mission that will impact lives, not only on earth but even in eternity.

 “I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race

and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me.” (Acts 20:24)

 J.E.E.

Day 17 – Free, But Not Cheap

2 Samuel 24:18-25

             This portion of Scriptures revolutionized my life and set me free from “Wimpy Christianity” that values me above all else. David is nearing the end of his tenure as the King of Israel sins against God and decides to hold a census. Out of that sin, God sent a plague over Israel and the only way to stop it was for David to offer a specific offering to God in a specific place. A man named Araunah owned the site and David needed it to save Israel. Because of the seriousness of the moment Araunah offered it to him for free, just as any reasonable believer would for his king.

            David’s reply to him is the transforming part of the whole story. David said “I will not offer burn offerings to the Lord my God with that which cost me nothing.” Think of that statement, would it be the easy – cheap path for David or the one that was real? We all too often choose to serve God through the path of least resistance based on our good intentions. Every time we do that, we dishonor the relationship we have and treat the blood of Christ as a common thing. It is so easy to go through the motions, to “phone it in” and call that close enough in our relationship with God. Unfortunately, as a wise man once said, “the path of least resistance is what makes both rivers and men crooked.” David chose the Bold Faith kind of worship before God, one that demands his highest and best.

            For us today, on this side of the cross, it remains for us to personally decide to offer ourselves as living sacrifices to God. Love demands that we give our highest and best everyday in worship because our heart constrains us to do no less. When the opportunity comes to volunteer, or give the larger of the two bills in our wallet to the cause of Christ we generally hear two inner voices. The bold one says “go for it, live all out because He did it for me,” and the wimpy one says “someone else will do it, you’ve done enough, give the lesser amount because you need the bigger one for your own purposes.” It’s time to step up, stop giving excuses for your wimpy desires and live the only life worth living, a life of Bold Faith. That’s the only way we will experience the promise that says He will honor those who honor Him !

 I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing. (2 Samuel 24:24)

H.J.

Day 16 – Bold Sacrifice

David – 2 Samuel 24:18-25

             Boldness and sacrifice were not foreign concepts to King David. They were a way of life! From the time Samuel anointed him King, the Holy Spirit had come upon him; two fruits of which were courage and sacrificial service. Commitment to God’s plan, and the willingness to risk his own life were trademarks of David’s 40 year dynasty as “Gods Anointed” over Israel.

            2 Samuel 24 records an encounter between an elder King David and the prophet Gad.  He had come to announce judgment upon Israel in the form of a plague.  The wages of sin, both then and now, is death!  Seventy thousand Israelites would die in the plague. 

            Picking up the text in verse 18, Gad instructs David on God’s sole remedy for sin – sacrifice. (Note:  Hebrews 10:8 – 14). As the story continues, Araunah the Jebusite does what you would expect any loyal citizen to do, he offers King David use of his “goods and facilities free of charge.” David’s response is consistent with how he has lived out his life – “I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.” Sacrifice implies cost. It always requires personal expense or extra effort, not out of surplus, but out of scarcity; or, there is NO real sacrifice. 

            In what tangible ways has God called you to sacrifice for Him? Have you been so bold (courageous) as to volunteer to give of your time, your energy or your finances in a way that has cost you personally? Or do you tend to give from what’s left (i.e. that which cost you nothing). Do you look for “deals” in serving Christ or like David, are you glad to pay “full price” to honor the Lord your God. Bold Faith will manifest itself through bold sacrifices. Ask God for both the willingness to do so, and creative and effective ways to serve Him sacrificially.

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find;

knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7)

J.E.E.

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